Reese Witherspoon: I did not have a lot of support with my first baby


Reese Witherspoon is mom to three kids: Ava, 21, Deacon, 17 and Tennessee, eight. Ava and Deacon are her children with her first husband, Ryan Phillippe, whom Reese married when she was 23. I vaguely remember Reese and Ryan’s wedding. I’d only seen her in a couple of things, so she wasn’t someone I paid a lot of attention to. But I was shocked she was getting married so young. It made a little more sense when she announced her daughter’s birth shortly after the wedding. I was much more aware of both of them when their relationship crashed and burned, though. Reese is the guest on Friday’s episode of Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard and she discussed her early days of being a mom. She said it was especially hard because she “didn’t have a lot of support.” That sounds to me like Ryan checked out from the start.

Reese Witherspoon is opening up about her early obstacles with motherhood.

During a recent episode of Dax Shepard’s podcast Armchair Expert, the actress, 45, spoke to Kristen Bell and Monica Padman about the struggles she faced when she and her then-husband welcomed their first child.

Witherspoon gave birth to Ava, now 21, in September 1999, about two months after she and her ex-husband, Ryan Phillippe tied the knot. The pair would then go on to welcome son Deacon, now 17, in October 2003, before separating three years later in 2006.

“I did not have a lot of support with my first baby and I learned really early, like this is not going to work,” she explained. “I tried to muscle through for five months with Ava, just not sleeping and I became delirious.”

Noting that she “couldn’t have worked” through the first few months she was a new mom to Ava, Witherspoon explained, “I was lucky enough to have money saved and I didn’t have to work, but it’s just not a one-person job.”

“I would even say it’s not a two-person job,” the Big Little Lies star added.

[From People]

As I said, the podcast hasn’t aired yet, so I don’t know what else Reese said. But if she was doing a “one-person job,” that means Ryan wasn’t there. He could have been working, but my Spidey sense is telling me that isn’t what Reese is getting at. I might be wrong, there are some good sides to Ryan but there are some ugly sides to him as well, so we’ll have to see how much dirt Reese is offering on Friday. My guess is this is the best we’re getting. Reese will shade Ryan but stops short of saying he’s a rat, which I think she does for the benefit of their kids.

Reese is correct, it’s a very hard job. OMGsh, those sleepless first few months were hell. I know it’s the joke of every parent show or film but you just don’t realize how bad it is. Reese also talked about having postpartum depression with Ava. I feel for her experiencing hormonal depression and having no one around to help her with her first child. I’m glad she noted she had the privilege of not having to work on top of that, but it’s still a hard situation.

I wonder what Ryan did to piss Reese off enough to put this out there.



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32 Responses to “Reese Witherspoon: I did not have a lot of support with my first baby”

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  1. Seraphina says:

    First, having been trying a collagen mask last night, I appreciate how Reese is not morphed into a person I do not recognize.
    Second, babies are difficult – and first babies even more so. I had a wonderful support system, was married, just turned 30 and NOTHING prepared me for what I experienced – both with labor (that is why it is called LABOR) and afterwards. Sleepless nights almost broke me. Months of crying and not sleeping. I can see why sleep deprivation is a form of torture. And then add if you can’t properly nurse – it was all too much.
    I appreciate these women who tell their stories so others can see they aren’t alone. We need to be a support system for one another ALWAYS.

    • DuchessL says:

      OMGosh I did not know i was pregnant the first time, at that time, i was young and still didnt think about having kids. I was told stories like Reese’s, it’s exhausting and difficult and the sleepless nights omg I was expecting the ABSOLUTE WORST OF THE WORST. and strangely, nothing happened. My daughter slept her nights about 3 nights after her birth, and everything else was a breeze lol but I have a great husband. She could’ve been a 1 person job though lol

    • marehare says:

      I nursed my babies the first year. I didn’t have lots of sleepless nights. The baby work up, I changed them and then nursed them back to sleep. No biggie.

      • Marie says:

        That’s great for you but please don’t undermine other parents’ struggles with the first year. It’s not “no biggie” for a lot of us.

      • Seraphina says:

        @marehare, the baby had sleepless nights and lots of crying – which in turn gave me sleepless nights, stress and yes I did cry at times. The struggle is/was real for many of us moms, not all are blessed with the experience you had. I always tell women I know who will be first time mom: Nothing prepares you for this and if you ever need anything – I am always here, no judgement.

        @Marie, THANK YOU.

  2. Millennial says:

    Im sure Reese could say a lot more. I think Deacon turning 18 this year might be part of Reese’s IDGAF anymore attitude. Ava doesn’t post Ryan on her Insta at all, whereas Reese makes a lot of appearances, fwiw. And let’s not forget the whole other kid Ryan has that he pretty much pretends doesn’t exist.

    • liz says:

      THIS!! Their son is about to turn 18. Those kids have long known exactly what their father is like. There is no longer any need for their mother to keep up appearances.

    • SKF says:

      I recall that Ryan was filming in Canada during one of Reese’s pregnancies and was openly shagging at least one chick. Probably more. It was blatant. All the locals knew. He was a terrible partner.

  3. Sandy 123 says:

    I was in a similar situation where I was married, but it was like being married to a very lazy ghost. Doing literally everything around the home and looking after a baby almost single handedly, and sharing space with someone else who treats you with complete indifference, is absolute hell.

    • Jess says:

      Sandy, I had something similar and can confirm how awful it is.

    • Andrea says:

      Very disappointing. Dating is very romantic and men are very gentlemanly. Once you are married and have children you get treated like a slave, big wake up call.

  4. jbyrdku says:

    I was in highschool when Cruel Intentions came out, so I can confirm that I remember both her and Ryan when they were starting out as the “next big things”. He was never that great to me. He always, no matter what show or movie he was in, had an air of “douche” about him.

  5. Boxy Lady says:

    Hmmm. I remember when they were still married, she said that he was better at some of the logistics, like diaper changes, because his family ran a daycare center and was used to kids. IIRC, she said she had never changed a diaper before she became a mom. At any rate, I can’t remember if he was working more than she was in general back then. Probably, though. I do remember however there was some public judgement against them marrying and having children so young.

    • LillyfromLillooet says:

      I remember that too.

      • Ana170 says:

        I don’t think there’s ever been a time when Ryan came close to Reese’s success. Her first role was a lead and for the most part her career was all on an upward trajectory. Ryan I hadn’t heard of until Cruel Intentions, which I only knew of because of female leads. The next I heard of his career, he was on a new show last or this year.

    • pottymouth pup says:

      I remember that as well and that she said he was highly involved and knew more about babies than she because his mother ran a day care & he used to help out at it

    • Cas says:

      I remember this too. She said that she didn’t know anyone else with a baby at the time, and the first baby she held was her own, she didn’t have any experience with babies. She was being polite at the time, her comments about Ryan in 2003 are those women find themselves making to convince themselves their partner is supporting them appropriately and it’s her fault for not finding it enough.
      I believe her, I think anyone would struggle.
      And there was a lot of judgement about their ages.

  6. Jezz says:

    Ugh, I remember not sleeping for months. It was hell. But worth it, obviously!

  7. Tootsie McJingle says:

    I have twin five week old girls and yes it has been very challenging, even though I have a pretty helpful husband and these aren’t even my first babies! I also have a five year old and a six year old and it’s still a struggle. Averaging less than five hours a night is still hard even four kids later. Just last night was a three hour night because both girls are congested and weren’t sleeping well lying down so they had to be held. My husband and I switched off the beat we could but neither of us slept much!

  8. MattyLove says:

    Wow, I did not know at all that she has a third child!

  9. LillyfromLillooet says:

    Also, I bought Paper Palace–the book Reese is holding in the top pic–even though Caitlin Macy, whom I adore, was not entirely crazy about it in her NYT book review. I can report it was a great read!

  10. Kiddy says:

    I appreciat that mothers share their stories. The struggles of mothers are often overlooked and not recognized in society. But let’s make a differenciation where it is utterly necessary to make one. There is a tendency that rich women say they had no help and motherhood had been as difficult for them as it is for women with lower incomes or single mothers. They pretend to be just like any average family in order to score some brownie points for their image and brand and pr. “We are just like anybody else.” Nope, I am not buying this. Rich women have nannies and night nurses and all sorts of help. They are not like us. So from my point of view the whole thing sounds like this: Mulit-Millionaress said she didn’t have any help …. yep, sure. Forgot to hire help or forgot about the fact you had hired some help?

    • Brittney B says:

      She definitely wasn’t a multimillionaire when she was 23, but she acknowledges the privilege she *did* have (enough money to save up & stay home), so I’m not sure why you’re calling her a liar.

  11. iconoclast59 says:

    Has Ryan been all that present in the kids’ lives since the divorce? I can count on the fingers of one hand how many times I’ve seen them photographed together (and still have fingers left over). Granted, maybe he’s way more private about his time with the kids, but my instincts tell me he’s just not there.

  12. Marie says:

    I became a first time mommy earlier this month and I am not ashamed to say it is the hardest f*cking thing. I am so thankful that j am finally coming out of the baby blues period and my daughter and I are starting to bond. And it’s not just a two person job – my hubby and I are so lucky to have our parents nearby to help us and even then it’s still really f*cking hard. It’s refreshing to talk to our other parent friends who also say that yes the newborn phase is super hard. Thank God I have a good partner who is a very involved daddy.
    Society and pop culture don’t reflect this and that it’s totally okay to say that the first months are not bliss. It doesn’t mean the parents don’t love and cherish their baby and that they still don’t want to be parents.

    • psl says:

      I am a Nanny for a first time Mom, baby is 3 1/2 months old. Mom is so appreciative of my help. It is important for you to take care of yourself too, glad you have help. 🙂

  13. Elaine Stritch says:

    It is already up! It was released last week if anyone is interested.

  14. candy says:

    This must have been so awful. Sadly, it’s a situation many women face. We are definitely the stronger gender, but men are absolved time and time again.

  15. lucy2 says:

    I think it’s pretty safe to estimate that Reese has done much of the heavy lifting involved in being a parent. For the kids’ sake, I hope they all get along and have a good relationship, but it’s been pretty clear that their marriage was not good, and Ryan has had a number of issues since.

    I’m going to listen to her episode, even though I stopped listening to that podcast.

  16. katie says:

    I’ve often thought a triad would be ideal just to have more help with the kids, hahahah, so Reese, I feel you!

  17. Aries-Mira says:

    I was married at 24 and had my first baby at 29. My mom and dad spent two weeks at our house camped in our driveway helping out (meals, cleaning, laundry and watching/cuddling with the baby while DH and I got some extra sleep). It was a huge help! Later, when DH had to go back to work, it was hard (I need 8-9 hours a night!), but we figured it out. I know it is different (easier or harder) for everyone, but having a support system makes a HUGE difference.